Report Shows Nationwide Rise In Pedestrian Fatalities, N.H. Numbers Remain Low

Feb 27, 2020

Credit Rockingham Planning Commission

A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association says there were roughly 6,590 pedestrian fatalities in the United States last year, the highest number in 30 years. 

The 2019 estimates continue the steady increase in pedestrian deaths over the past 10 years in the U.S. 

“It’s nothing short of a complete reversal of progress," said Richard Retting who wrote the report for the Governors Highway Safety Association. "We saw over the prior 30 years about a 50 percent drop in pedestrian fatalities, and in the last 10 years we’ve seen a 50 percent increase."

He said distracted driving and larger vehicles on the road have contributed to that increase. A pedestrian is two times more likely to die if hit by an SUV than a passenger car, according to the report. 

In New Hampshire, nine pedestrians died in 2019. 

Credit FARS – Division of Motor Vehicles

Retting said traffic enforcement around speeding and alcohol can help reduce pedestrian deaths, but it’s also a behavioral issue for drivers and pedestrians. 

“Figuring out ways to get people to act more responsibly is another consideration,” he said.

New Hampshire’s Office of Highway Safety released a new training program for police officers as a refresher course on laws that apply to pedestrian and biking enforcement. 

“We always remind motorists to drive safely, and to keep an eye out for pedestrians when they’re navigating the road ways,” said Jennifer Tramp, spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Office of Highway Safety.  “And for pedestrians, to be mindful of their surroundings and to make sure they’re not looking down at their phones and to be visible.” 

There have been two pedestrian deaths in New Hampshire so far in 2020.  The state's pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 is one of the lowest in the country.